Bulletin Member Engagement App

Why You Need An App

Enhancing Member Engagement Through Mobile Apps

A Missed Connection

Written by Jason Mathews

In the spring of 2018, the Red for Ed movement was in full swing in Arizona.  Thousands of teachers from around the state descended on the capitol to demand higher classroom spending.  

At a City of Tempe Target location, a group of teachers had gathered to place signs and win over some of the locals to their cause.  But, when only a handful of teachers showed up, it was clear that a mistake had been made.  But what was the error?  Wrong time?  Wrong location?  Was the event canceled?

As the teachers gathered around in a circle in the parking lot, one of them called out, ‘Someone check your email.  Check Facebook.  Check Twitter.  Check the website.’

Their confusion highlights an important problem for associations and other member driven groups – the lack of a cohesive and centralized form of communications.  They had all the information in the world at their fingertips.  The problem was, they had no idea where to find it.

The Challenge of Connecting with Members

Social media has become the dominant form of communications for associations over the past ten years or more.  But, as powerful as it is at reaching people, it presents some considerable challenges.

So, what are some of the challenges we face when connecting with members on social media?

Social Media is a Busy Place

The average Facebook user has over 300 friends.  Similar statistics exist for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, you name it.  Every time you post a message, you are competing against the postings of your member’s friends, family, and myriad of interests.

Lack of Security, Privacy, and Control

With social media, you have a limited amount of control over who accesses your content or participates in your channels.  This makes management difficult and necessitates the need for monitoring.  Plus, by using social media for member communications, you’re asking members not only to join your channel, but to join a platform which profits from your member’s data.  Many members choose not to participate, or are limiting their participation, on these platforms.

Conflated Push Notifications

Push notifications may be the single most powerful feature offered by smartphone apps and social media uses them extensively.  Think about it.  When do you pull your phone out of your pocket to read a text message, a new email, or a social media post?  But, thanks to the sheer quantity of posts and activity on these apps, these notifications are conflated leading to notifications such as, ‘You have 50 New Postings’.  As a result, users can’t see when your organization has published new content.

Filters & Algorithms

Social media sites use complex algorithms and machine learning to determine which posts are presented to users, and in what order.  Unless members are very involved in your organization, it’s tough to get posts to the top of member feeds.

Lack of Centralization

Users are increasingly accustomed to having access to any given resource in a single location.  Do you enjoy having to open five different streaming services to find your favorite movies and tv shows?  Of course not.  That’s why Apple TV exists.

Why Apps Matter

Apps allow us to work around these problems by giving members a dedicated space for engagement.  Through a dedicated app, organizations can offer members access to a world of resources, events, exclusive content, and more—all while fostering a sense of community and belonging.  A dedicated app can enhance and foster member engagement in several key ways.

Accessibility and Convenience

A dedicated app can serve effectively as the communications hub of your organization.  Members can access all the news, events, resources, and benefits that their membership provides at the click of a button.  This always on 24/7 access gives members the ability to engage with your community on their terms.

Controlled Space

Full control of the space and content presented therein allows the content to be well organized and solely targeted to members.  There are no competing interests to interfere.

Dedicated Push Notifications

Drive engagement with push notifications to alert members to important updates and calls-to-action.  Keep members connected and up to date with the latest news and activities.

Event Management and Promotion

Mobile apps simplify the process of event management, registration, and promotion.  Members can browse through the calendar, identify events of interest, register to attend, and check for event updates all from the same location.

Visible Value of Membership

Push notifications of news, events, and calls-to-action drive home the value of membership by demonstrating the vibrancy of your organization and community.  Just having the icon on a member’s phone is a subtle reminder of your organization’s presence each time the member unlocks their phone.

Monetization Opportunities

Control over advertising and sponsorships.  While many organizations will wish to offer their content ad free, others will take advantage of the opportunity to create space for sponsors and member benefits.

Long-Term Engagement

By offering an app, organizations can foster a long-term engagement with members.  Social media tends to focus on short-term interaction, making it challenging to sustain engagement over time.

An Invaluable Tool

Mobile apps have become indispensable tools in the pursuit of enhanced member engagement. They provide organizations with greater control, customization, and opportunities for member engagement compared to social media platforms. While social media plays a valuable role in reaching a broader audience and raising awareness, a dedicated app can create a more focused, immersive, and member-centric experience that strengthens relationships and fosters deeper engagement within the organization’s community.